Cover Story

Information flow draws more people to weibo

Updated: 2011-04-22 10:52

By Yang Yang (China Daily European Weekly)

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Information flow draws more people to weibo
Liam Bates, a cross-talk performer from Switzerland, says he likes viewing weibo as it helps him understand China better. Wang Jing / China Daily 

Social networking sites are becomingincreasingly popular with foreign professionals living, working in China

Television and radio host Julien Gaudfroy is known for his impeccable Chinese language skills, charisma and keen sense of humor. The 32-year-old French media personality is also a passionate weibo lover and addict, who swears by the medium.

"I am sort of addicted to weibo. Most of time that I am stuck in the traffic en route to work is devoted to weibo," says Gaudfroy as he keeps glancing furtively at his 3G mobile phone.

"You can read almost everything on weibo, like the latest news. If you search the key words, sometimes you can get more detailed information than what is available on Baidu or Google. And if you follow some news websites and observers, you will get much sharper comments on the same events than many newspapers," says Gaudfroy when asked why he spends so much time on weibo.

Writing his first micro blog on Nov 27, 2009, he has already had more than 40,000 followers on his Sina Weibo, one of China's leading micro blog service providers. He has written almost 1,500 micro blogs in the past one and a half years, averagely two to four pieces every day.

"It has been too much for me, and I think I need to control myself a little bit," he says.

Gaudfroy co-hosts a Chinese talk show, broadcast daily by CRI network, called The Foreigner's Point of View. Not only is he a popular TV host, but also an accomplished cross-talk performer in China.

Swearing by the power of the new medium, he says that people often reach him through weibo when they want to do an interview or ask him to host an event. "Without the weibo, I might have lost several chances," he says.

Liam Bates, a 23-year-old cross-talk performer from Switzerland who speaks fluent Chinese, agrees with Gaudfroy. "Many programs have come to me through the weibo. It is very convenient," he says.

Information flow draws more people to weibo 

Bates first came to China in 2004 to learn martial arts. After graduating from the Chinese program at the University of British Columbia in 2010, he decided to stay on in China, learning cross talks and co-hosting some radio or travel TV programs. Both he and Gaudfroy are students of Ding Guangquan, a well-known cross-talk master in China.

"I heard about weibo from Gardfroy for the first time. And in a TV program last December, I heard about it again. Then I searched for it on the Internet and found it to be very interesting. So I registered an account on Sina Weibo," he says. "After buying this new mobile phone, I micro blog more, and post several pieces a day, especially when I travel around the country and see many interesting things."

Apart from the convenience of people reaching him, Bates likes viewing weibo as it also helps him understand China better.

"I learnt several hot Internet Chinese words from the weibo, like shenma (what) and the Li Gang event (Li Gang's 22-year-old son tried to speed away after knocking a farm girl to death on a campus by telling the security guards that 'my father is Li Gang', the deputy head of the local police. It later became a sensation in the virtual world)," says Bates.

More and more foreigners in China are using weibo, to communicate their thoughts and knowledge of China, says Gaudfroy.

The average age of weibo users in China is 25.4 years, says entrepreneur Lee Kai-fu in his book Microblog: Changing the World.

Su Zhou, a 23-year-old graduate student from Fudan University in Shanghai, is one of the first weibo users in China. She registered her first micro blog account on, the first weibo service provider in the country in 2008. As a common user, Su has more than 10,000 followers on Sina Weibo after getting an account in 2009.

"Two of my micro blogs were forwarded by Kevin Tsai, a well-known host in Taiwan. Then suddenly I was followed by thousands of people. During my graduate days, especially in 2009, I would view weibo all day long because I had much free time. But I do not have much time after I started social practice in early 2010. Like me, my classmates also like to read latest news and jokes on weibo, but few are addicted to it," she says.

But Su says that she likes viewing weibo as it is more interactive, gives the latest news and also has many jokes. "People can exchange their opinions very fast," she says, "As a journalism student, I would like to try new media."

Besides, "if you read a book, you may spend days knowing about only one person's opinion. But on weibo, a large amount of information and opinion is available to you, and you can also communicate with different kinds of people", she says.


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